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Oil theft: A multi-billion dollar business fuels Mexican cartels

Mexico´s notorious drug cartels have thrived off drug trafficking, the arms trade and kidnapping as lucrative sources of revenue for years. But now, more and more cartels are setting their sights on stealing government-owned fuel. In the state of Puebla, cartels have gone as far as bribing farmers into uncovering pipelines in order to siphon off refined oil and sell it for big profit.

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The spike in prices at the beginning of this year has made stealing fuel more lucrative than ever in the eyes of criminal groups. Mexican authorities registered 200 cases of oil theft in 2012. In the last three months alone, that figure has jumped to more than 2,600. The losses for Mexico´s state oil giant, Pemex, have been enormous, costing the company almost 2.4 billion US dollars since 2010. Our team sent this report from Puebla, where authorities are desperately trying to get a grip on the problem. Report by Laurence Cuvillier, Matthieu Comin and Edmundo Velazquez

A programme prepared by Patrick Lovett and Elom Marcel Toble.

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